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[YRP Students' Essays] Bullying! - Causes and Possible Solutions


Since bullying is quite a social problem in Japan as elsewhere, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the issue, try to help the victims of bullying, and think about how to prevent bullying in the future. In order to solve the problem, this paper aims to explain what bullying is, examine survey data and cases of bullying in Japan, and think about causes and possible solutions for bullying.

I believe that everyone must have equal rights to receive education. Children need to be able to relax and sleep soundly. They need to make friends and play well together. They need to communicate with their parents and teachers. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to improve the situation by understanding bullying and suggesting possible solutions.

Bullying and its Effects on People

Bullying is when people use their strength or power of some kind to hurt weaker people. Sometimes it involves direct attacks such as hitting, name-calling, teasing or taunting. Often parents and teachers dismiss bullying among kids as a normal part of growing up, but bullying is harmful. It can lead children and teenagers to feel tense and afraid. If kids try to stop it, they may become the next target of bullying. Being bullied may lead them to avoid school. In severe cases, teenagers who are bullied may feel they need to take drastic measures or to react violently. Others even consider suicide, so the effects of bullying last a lifetime.

Data on Bullying in Japan

According to a survey of 464 junior high school students in Japan, "Have you ever experienced bullying?" was asked, and unfortunately about 190 students had been bullied before. "Have you ever seen bullying?" was also asked, and 198 students answered "Yes" (Morita, 1999, pp. 18-19). In another survey, "If you are bullied, will you depend on your teacher or parents?" was asked, and most of the students answered "No" (Oki, 1998, p. 14). Most of these students do not trust in parents and teachers, thinking the latter are very busy. Many parents have jobs, and they are out until late at night, so they do not have enough time to talk with their children. Also, teachers have a lot of classes and work, so they have little extra time. As a result, many parents and teachers are not aware of bullying. But if they dismiss the problem or do not care about it, I think it shows a lack of communication with children.

According to interviews with teenagers who had attempted suicide, most said that they did it because they were trying to escape from a situation that seemed impossible to deal with, or to get relief from very bad thoughts or feelings. But they did not want to die as much as they wanted to escape from what was going on. Also some young people who end their lives or attempt suicide might be trying to escape from feelings of rejection, hurt or loss. Some might be angry, ashamed, or guilty about something. Others may be worried about disappointing friends or family members. Yet others may feel unwanted, unloved, victimized, or as if they are a burden on others (Oki, 1998, pp. 14-27). They should be aware of their own anxiety. So if teachers and parents communicate with children, they may be able to protect them from bullying or its ill effects. Teachers and parents should take the initiative and communicate with all of their children to sound them out about any problems they may have.

Some Causes of Bullying

Children have various needs, such as to be able to relax enough, play with friends, and sleep soundly. The frustration of their needs may cause some children to bully others. Many children have to study hard until late in the evening, and they go to cram schools, because their parents have high expectations of them, hoping they get good grades or pass entrance examinations (Tsuchiya, 2001, pp. 67-68). So if students do not have enough time to rest or sleep, they have stress. They may take this stress out on their friends or other students by shouting or bullying.

Among other factors, in the U.S. by comparison it was found that 98% of families have a TV, and many have more than one. 52% of children in the U.S. have a TV in their bedroom. When children are not studying, instead of playing outside with friends, they often play virtual reality games. They watch TV or play such games 3-4 hours a day (Tsuchiya, 2001, pp. 67-68). This seems so similar to Japan. Sometimes kids cannot distinguish reality from the virtual. They may try to hit and kick other kids as in virtual reality games.

Cultural factors and individual differences combine to produce various kinds of behavior. One scenario in Japan is when stress and pressure to conform to groups leads young people with poor social skills to bully those who seem different.

Recent Cases of Bullying in Japan

Electronic bullying has become a problem recently, such as insulting messages identifying individuals on Internet bulletin board systems or utilizing the mobile phones that are ubiquitous among young people in Japan. In the past, most bullying took place at school, so when kids got home they could find sanctuary. But mobile phones are so important to children that they tend to keep them switched on all the time. So if a child is harassed by mobile phone calls, it can seem like there is no escape.

In another kind of incident reported recently, a group of six boys thought it would be fun to video themselves bullying someone. But it ended up being seen around the world on YouTube.

Japan's national sport, sumo, has received some unwanted media attention due to a shocking event. A stable boss hit a young wrestler with a beer bottle, then other wrestlers beat and kicked him. This bullying led to his death. In sumo and other professional sports, there is too much competition with money at stake. They need to follow rules of fair play and go back to their roots in the Shinto religion.

Confronting the Neglect of Bullying

Parents and schools should monitor children's anxiety more closely. Unfortunately, most parents seem to just expect their children to study hard. They may rationalize that adults should not interfere, that children should solve their own problems themselves, and that this will give them the skills and confidence for them to grow up into adults (Sakazaki, 2003, pp. 227-282). But as a result they may not be aware of their children's anxieties such as from being bullied. Teachers for their part may be very ardent about education, but if they are excessively concerned about students' academic performance, they may seem to lack a caring heart (Takuma, 1995, pp. 188-197). If children interpret neglect of their anxieties as a cold attitude or abdication of responsibility, they may suffer from stress and take it out on others if not on themselves.

Possible Solutions for Bullying

Many bullies share some common characteristics. They like to dominate others and they are generally focused on themselves. They often have poor social skills and poor social judgment. Sometimes they lack feelings of empathy or caring toward other people. To improve this situation, two things need to be done. First, parents and teachers need to change their way of thinking. They should not just think about children studying but also about problems students may have such as bullying. In schools, everyone needs to change their attitude not to accept bullying. Teachers can use circle time to tackle prejudice and discrimination. Second, parents and teachers need to be aware of possibilities such as bullying when a child's attitude is strange or gloomy.

Parents can reduce bullying behavior in children and teenagers by detecting what is going on. It is not easy to hear in the case when their own child is the bully, but it is important to address the problem in order to try and help the child change his or her bullying behavior.


Kids without stress may respond to those who are vulnerable or different not by bullying but with kindness. So parents and teachers need to be aware of bullying, and monitor the attitude of children in their care accordingly. If adults address their real problems, children will open their minds to parents and teachers, and the causes of bullying will be gradually eliminated.

Please help. Thank you.

orita, Y. (1999). Nihon no ijime [Bullying in Japan]. Tokyo: Kaneko Shobo.
Oki, N. (1998). Tasukete [Help!]. Tokyo: Ouhan.
Sakazaki, H. (2003). Kodomo shakai no shinrigaku [Psychology of children's social life]. Tokyo: Kotobuki.
Takuma, T. (1995). Ijime [Bullying]. Tokyo: Saiensu-sha.
Tsuchiya, M. (2001). Areru kodomo no kokoro [Mind of disruptive children]. Tokyo: Taishukan Shoten.

Child Research Net would like to thank Osaka Jogakuin College and Sayaka Wada, student and author, for permitting reproduction of this article on the CRN web site.